A SACRED SIGHTING IN THE DRESSING ROOM by mia hinkle

“I found the clarity bucket nestled against God’s will. I cupped my hands and scooped up all I could.”

In our Scribes creative writing group we meet monthly or so and read our assignments to each other and then offer input and editing. Lest you think that all our meetings are very serious and philosophical and heavy, I thought I’d share a piece that shows how well rounded our topics can be. One of our assignments was based on the 1950’s radio program called, “This I Believe” hosted by Edward R. Murrow, and more recently resurrected by NPR’s Bob Edwards. The assignment: Write a piece about a foundational belief, the secret of life, or a motto that has served as bedrock in your life’s journey in 500 words or less. This is what I submitted, sort of:

THIS I BELIEVE …the secret of life is… a good bra!

Now I’m not talking about a sexy Victoria Secret bra or the perfect body to fit inside the bra. I’m talking about a good bra. One that fits. One that is comfortable. One that does what its suppose to do. One that flatters your figure whatever it is.

I’m not kidding. You can put on the crumbiest old T-shirt or dowdiest dress, but if you slip it over a good bra, you will look and feel like a million bucks. Conversely, I once had dinner with a friend who was all decked out in a Chanel evening gown, but it looked like she had four breasts because of her much-too-small strapless bra.

Sounds simple, right? Buy a bra that fits and flatters. Easy enough, right? Then why do so many of us insist on wearing a bra that may have fit at one time, but not anymore? Or worse yet, why do we buy ones that never fit right in the first place? Come on, you know who you are!

When I was 14 years old, my mother brought me to an old flagship department store downtown Minneapolis where the lingerie matrons knew their foundation garments and had a full appreciation of the complexities of the female shape. Before that day, I had been buying bras off the rack. They fit me like rubber bands stretched reeeal tight around my ribcage, with straps that cut deep ravines into my shoulders. And the cup size!? I won’t even go there for fear of frightening small children in the audience!

Anyway, my mom took me to Daytons in 1968 and we were on a mission. A mission to find the perfect foundational garment just for me. While news of bra-burning blazed across national headlines, there was no such foolishness at OUR house. We couldn’t wait to discover the flawless fabric combined with precise design resulting in the perfect bra. You have probably heard that a good bra is like a good man… good looking, supportive, and never ever lets you down. But I digress.

OK. The dressing room… OMG !!!!!

You are looking at someone who, as a child, was so painfully shy, was often seen standing in the corner of the playground unable to work up the nerve to play with other children. I really didn’t even speak at school until 4th grade. Then in Jr High when showering after gym class was the law of the land, I refused to disrobe and ended up in the principal’s office trying to defend my position. “Why should I have to walk into the showers after standing along the sidelines during the entire 40 minute class anyhow?” The truth is I couldn’t bare to speak to the bespectacled principal in gray flannel about my strong desire to keep my clothes on in the presence of anyone, especially girls my own age.

Back to the dressing room.

So in walks the lingerie matron with arms full of brassieres. Playtex. Warner. Bali. Lyrca this. 18-hour-that. So many choices. “Try this on” “Looks great.” “Oh-oh, lets try this instead.” Well, after I worked through the trauma of the whole dressing room scene, I had a sacred sighting of my own of sorts … right there in the dressing room of the lingerie department.

The clarity bucket. Nestled against the wisdom of God. I cupped my hands and began to scoop it up.

It suddenly dawned on me that these older women had something astounding to offer me! A good foundation. Confidence. Maturity. Perspective. Assurance. That certain savoir-faire!

I once heard a wise pastor tell a group of high school graduates, “Search your heart now and nail down a few things you believe—those things that are non-negotiable. Hold fast to those things. Then go out and explore the world with an open mind and a tolerant heart, knowing that your firm foundation will support you … come what may.” That was really good advice I think. And advice I aspired to faithfully follow.

The trick, I came to realize, is to figure out at what point those non-negotiables (just like those unmentionables) might have changed due to that sweet process called life. Our bra size—just like the weight on our driver’s license—is not frozen in time, contrary to what we’d like to believe. We might do well to embrace these changes, not deny them. Perhaps a larger size. Or a smaller size. Possibly even an under-wire, heaven forbid.

Perhaps a point of view with a little less black and white and a few more pastels. Maybe a more inclusive world view as we shed our fear of unknown cultures. Possibly a realization that the whole story is usually more complicated than we may be privy to. How about accepting the fact that self-righteous talk suffocates everyone in the room, while grace and forgiveness are contagious.

A moment of clarity. God’s wisdom. I scooped up all I could. I like to think this may have been what my mother had in mind so many years ago at that flagship department store when she gave me a glimpse of the importance of a good foundation. Oh and of course… a good bra.

[I read this at a Scribes event entitled Sacred Sightings, where all the essays were about seeing God in everyday life.]

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